Healthcare Game Changer

Patrick Albrecht is an independent IT consultant (The Tech Brat) who helps small businesses with technology projects.  His practice is particularly successful with medical offices, such as Reviving My Health, which are typically buried in paper. 

Patrick Albrecht

Using industry-leading ScanSnap Document Scanners, he’s able to get them completely weaned from paper-based records in a matter of weeks and up and running with a purely digital, electronic system. 

And they love it, primarily for the convenience.

Previously, whenever a patient arrived for a visit, someone had to go back into the room where paperwork from previous visits, such as the physician’s notes, lab results, prescriptions, etc., are all stored, locate the relevant documents and have them available for the physician to review when they meet with the patient. 

ScanSnap scanning technology allows Reviving My Health to tag a file with data, such as the date/time and patient name, enabling quick and easy lookups.

Now, as soon as a patient walks in the door with any paperwork, they automatically scan it and save the document to a server, where the physician can instantly look up the patient’s files using a computer, tablet or phone. If the practice has multiple locations, it doesn’t matter. Before, the patient had to go to whichever office contained their document. Now, patients can visit their physician at whichever office happens to be mutually convenient, and their data is still available.

Another important factor in converting from paper to digitized files is saving money.

One customer, for example, was opening a clinic specializing in pain management. According to Albrecht, “Pain management is very paper-heavy. It has to do with insurance claims, lawyers, medical referrals, and related documentation. They estimated that each case would require 80 pieces of paper to start and that could expand to 120 to 150 pieces of paper per client that would have been stored in an archive room. Multiply that by a thousand patients a year, and I’m exhausted!” By automatically converting paper files to electronic records, they’re able to save thousands of dollars in storage costs while reclaiming a significant amount of lost productivity.

Another customer scanned all the paper documents they were storing in an archive room. By eliminating the need to store documents they were able to convert the room into a massage therapist room. Now, instead of the sunk cost of a room dedicated to storing boxes and boxes of paper, they turned the room into a profit center that generates thousands of dollars a week in new income.

A third factor is protecting sensitive records from damage. Any office that stores paper documents risks losing them in the event of a disaster, such as fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, or other natural disasters. But, storing records on a server gives the organization the ability to automatically back them up to an off-site server or into the cloud, where the data will be safe and secure.

Security is a key consideration for anyone handling patient data, which is legally protected by Federal laws, such as HIPAA. Paper files are inherently insecure. But with scanning technology, it’s easy to enable a robust password-protected security layer on the scanned file itself, as well as any server storing the documents, which can ensure that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive files. 

Finally, there’s backup and recovery to consider. Albrecht is based in the Tampa area and has to consider the possibility of a major hurricane disrupting his client’s operations. The backup scenario he recommends to his clients uses an on-site duplicate server for backup and recovery, coupled with a cloud-based backup server for coping with a major disaster. The cloud server is only there for disaster recovery and, for security reasons, clients aren’t allowed to log on and retrieve individual records. But, if the client loses their on-site systems in a fire or flood, once a new server is available, the cloud vendor will either do a bulk download or send the client a disc containing the data files.

Customers also love the reliability of ScanSnap scanners, such as the ScanSnap iX1600. Not only are they affordable (compared to costly enterprise scanners), easy to use and configure, but according to Albrecht, “The thing never jams. You stick 50 pieces of paper there and zip, you’re done.” And thanks to the scanner’s flexibility, it can handle all kinds of documents, including medical forms, insurance cards, ID cards, etc. Many of his clients not only use the scanners to handle patient records but also to manage their office paperwork, such as invoices, purchase orders, insurance, and legal documents, etc.

Naturally, these benefits – higher staff productivity, lower storage costs, faster document retrieval, and more robust backup/recovery – can also be enjoyed by other professionals, such as accountants or lawyers, not just health care workers.